A record number of start-ups were launched in 2020, despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to GBEA partner, Centre for Entrepreneurs.

In its seventh annual analysis of Companies House data, the Centre found that 772,002 new businesses were formed in 2020, up 13.5% on 2019.

Remarkably, from June onwards, every English region as well as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as a whole experienced continual growth in business startups despite further lockdowns. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland reported slower growth for the year, however, having suffered sharper drops in spring and slower recoveries in summer. Northern Ireland was the only nation to have seen start-up numbers decline from 2019.

Interestingly, the year got off to a slow start with the UK seeing new business formations down slightly at 0.6%. Once the pandemic and first lockdown struck, however, there was a 29% drop compared April in 2019, with Scotland and Northern Ireland both falling by 45%. By June, however, all UK nations returned to significant growth, averaging at 47% on June 2019.

Covid economy

The pandemic has led to major increases in manufacturing and retail of medical equipment, pharmaceutical goods, specialist clothing, PPE and clothing supplies. In total, 222 new businesses featured the word ‘Covid’ in their name, 185 with ‘PPE’ and a further 32 used the word ‘Coronavirus’.

There was also huge growth in wholesale and retail businesses, which saw new start-ups jump more than 60% and totalling just over 190,000. With non-essential shops closing for large periods of time, the number of online retail start-ups doubled over the year. There was also strong growth for computer, sporting goods, games and toys retailers.

With restrictions causing so much difficulty for hospitality businesses, there were unsurprisingly fewer start-ups in that sector in 2020. However, there was significant growth for takeaway food stores and mobile food stands.

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